Monday, June 24, 2013

Diving from the Sky

Cessna 182 - notice the step above the wheel
Rebecca and me, sporting cool pants
It's something that I've always wanted to do. I'm not sure why really, because it's kind of terrifying. There is room for all kinds of analysis here, and I will leave that up to you. Why is it that we like to scare ourselves?

It has been on my bucket list for years and years. Skydiving. Just once.  Kedra was firmly opposed when our kids were little. Something about raising the kids alone, etc. Well, now the kids are old enough to fend for themselves. Yes, that is a Christmas Vacation reference.

As I opened up my Christmas presents a few months ago, I received a nice certificate that gave me an opportunity to do the dive. Kedra found a deal online. (Jokes go here.) Rebecca, too, wanted to dive, and she saw an opportunity with her recent 20th birthday to get in on the deal. Kedra worked the phones and the Internet and the deal was done. Saturday June 22 was the day, and a little airport outside of Columbus, OH was the place.

Friday we made a leisurely trip over to Ohio, taking the scenic route. We checked in a hotel and went to eat. As we were eating, Rebecca looked up with a horrific look on her face, tears about to form. "I didn't bring my I.D." The diving company had warned over and over that no one could jump without a picture I.D.

Everyone's heart sank, along with some frustration arising. We brainstormed. Long story  short. Maddie went to our house and got Rebecca's I.D., waited for Lester to get off work, and then the two of them took off toward Ohio. Ben and Rebecca got in our car and headed toward Indiana, meeting somewhere outside of Indy. Yes, it was all crazy. Ben and Rebecca got back at 1 a.m. Lester and Maddie should get some kind of award.

We got up early Saturday morning, planning on leaving around 7 a.m. As I was waiting for everyone to load up, I opened my billfold to get my license out. Can you believe this? It wasn't there! My heart sank. Where was my license? I still don't know. It must be in TN, where I checked into a hotel a couple weeks ago. Replacing it is on my list this week.

Brainstorming started a second time, along with questions about Rebecca jumping without me. I had some cards, etc. but nothing that fit what the jump company required. I had Rebecca find some pictures of me on the Internet, from some newspaper articles I wrote that have my picture. Maybe that would work?

Once we got to the airport I was ready to plead my case. The folks were very friendly and we started the check-in procedure. Wouldn't you know it? They never asked for any I.D.! I was relieved of course, and then felt bad that four of my children spent hours driving across states to get Rebecca's. Best to let all those thoughts go.

It was a beautiful, still morning. A lady took out us to see our plane, explaining this particular plane was more thrilling because you have to climb out onto the step. Wow! We got all suited up and instructed in our fairly passive role. Taxi time! Takeoff! Climb, climb, climb to 10,000 feet above the ground!

Rebecca decided to go first. She was firmly strapped to her partner. They were tightly connected, and I watched them walk on their knees and place her right foot out the little door onto that little step. My heart was pounding. She got both feet out, and had both hands on the wing strut. The next thing I know, I hear a scream that fades off into the distance! Gone!

Oh wow! Now it's my turn. My guy quickly moved me along on my knees. One hand on the inside of the door, the other on the outside. I moved my right foot onto the step. It was hard, because we were going, I think, about 80 m.p.h. I got my right foot placed, and now my right hand moved out onto the strut. "Why am I doing this???" I was scared three quarters to death. My guide quickly had me move my left foot and hand outside of the plane. Both feet were on step and both hands on the strut. Heart pounding out my chest!

"Let go!!" I closed my eyes and felt this amazing sensation of flying off into the sky! I kept my eyes closed until I could get myself calmed down some. The air was very cool, and it was loud. Someone said we were falling at 120 m.p.h. After a few seconds I opened my eyes. We were looking straight down. It was amazing! We fell freely for 3,000 feet, so at around 7,000 feet my guide warned me and then opened the chute.

The chute opened, and it felt like we shot upwards like a rocket. It wasn't painful, but it was a little uncomfortable. Then everything changed. It got incredibly quiet and peaceful. What a feeling! We were floating down to earth at about 25 m.p.h. Rebecca had jumped out just a few seconds before me, and now our guides worked together to bring us fairly close, close enough to hear each other holler a question, "Are you doing OK?" Yes, and yes.

We had a few minutes of glorious drifting to the ground. I totally relaxed and enjoyed the view and experience. It was like nothing else I've ever done. The landing was interesting and exciting (see my heart rate). We came in pretty hard on our tails, which we were told would be the way it would happen. We landed just seconds apart. I got to watch Rebecca land, and then I made it in too.

It was a great experience. Here is some kind of funny data. Just for fun, I wore my Garmin to see what it would do. It made a fairly good map and recorded my heart rate. If you animate the map, notice how quickly the line down goes. Here is that data.

I love Rebecca and it was so nice to share this with her. Kedra is a wonderful woman to allow me to do this. Do it again? Not at my initiative. If someone else wants to go and needs someone to go with them, then I would consider that. Once was enough for me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday a.m.

Start of Jim-N-I run
Good morning! Thought I would check in this morning. I don't want to lose touch totally this summer. When does summer officially begin anyway? Hang on, I'll look it up... OK, here's what I found:

The solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2013, the solstice falls on Friday, June 21 at 5:04 Universal time, which is 1:04 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time and 12:04 A.M. Central Daylight Time.

Now we know! I observed that it was not totally dark at 10 last night.

Last night was supposed to be Pace Line Tuesday. Yesterday was supposed to be a big endurance day for me, after 2 days of recovering from the Jim-N-I. Which I needed, by the way. I was going to slip into the Mitchell pool at 11 a.m. for a quick swim. That didn't happen, due to a few more important things. "OK, I will still ride and run." The plan was to ride 37+ and run 3 afterwards - Tuesday p.m. brick.

I arrived at church around 5:30 and watched the storms clouds close in. We had a fairly good group show up, and, for a change, we made a good group decision. We decided to eat instead of ride. The decision not to ride was a good one. It got pretty nasty with wind, rain, and, I think, some hail. We laughed it off at Wendy's and had a good time telling stories and talking trash and tris.

This week has been enjoyable thus far. It's been busy for a summer week. I've got another guy I'm trying to help, so he came by yesterday morning and did some good work around the church building. He's got quite a past, but it is fairly distant and I think he is really trying to get it all together.

For lunch I went to Loogootee and met Christopher W. We had a great time talking Honduras and technology. He is sharp in all ways and is helping me learn some helpful things. Our trip to Honduras is looking really good. I am excited about our plans and approach. July 7-17. Our team is now at 31, I think.

Today is filled with several interesting things. I have spent a lot of time with Naaman, the one of 2 Kings 5 fame. You could call him the Big Dipper, or not. Interesting guy. Interesting story. I hope to spend more time with him today.

I need to run. You can take that literally and figuratively. Either way, both ways, it means I am signing off for now. Thanks for coming by.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday a.m.

Start of Jim-N-I ride
Good morning! A new day and a new week await us, and I'm ready to get going on/in to it. You? I'm enjoying the summer thus far, and there is whole lot more of it to come.

Saturday was the 10th Jim-N-I triathlon, an informal tri started by 2 friends, Jim S and Steve B, long time friends from the days of optometry school. This was my 3rd year of participation. The event is a long course tri, really a modified/shortened half Ironman, IF you do the whole thing. The swim is 1.2 miles, the ride 50 miles (6 less than half IM), and the run is 9 miles (4 less than half IM).

There were not as many participants this year, due to various reasons and conflicts in schedules. I will give you the Allen-centric view of the event. The first thing to remember is a year and a half ago is that I could not swim. At all. I could dog paddle 10 feet before panic set in. Last year at JNI I managed about 400 really ugly yards. It was ugly again this year, but I did about 800 this time - one lap (out of 3, if doing the full swim).

There is always tension, in my mind, between the amount of progress made and the amount that you need to make. They stand like an angel and a devil on my shoulder, regarding my Ironman goal. One shouts, "you are never going to get the swim thing!" and other counters, "Look how far you have come!" In the end, I strive to listen to the latter more and former less, knowing that I still have 1 year and 5 months to work. IF I kept on the trajectory of progress I am on, then I will be fine.

After the swim came the bike - 50 miles of wind. It's always windy, it seems, around Sullivan. We go from Sullivan over to the river by Merom, then to Carlisle, and back in a little more direct way. The ride rolls easy for 5-6 miles, and then it starts fast. I was prepared this year. I got on and we were going 28, 29 mph within a couple of minutes. I was told to hang on and it would slow some. It did. I managed to hang on for 3-4 miles, and then I just couldn't stay any longer. I had a long, windy ride to the SAG stop. It was fine. The last 20 miles were good.

It got hot on the ride. Iron Bill was saying his bike computer was reading 90+. It didn't feel that hot to me. Then the run started. I started feeling nauseous at about 2 miles. Not good. I gutted the run out, or maybe I should say, I gutted it in. I would run to the point of losing my nutritional intake and then walk. Then I would run to the same point again. It was ugly, but in the end I completed the 9 miles.

It was a fun day. I know some of you are thinking of the last couple of paragraphs and wondering how that could be fun. Well, that's a good point. In the end, though, you look at the end, the satisfaction of accomplishing something you want to do. I wish I would have felt better and had a better day, but I'm making progress (see above).

The feast with friends at end makes the effort throughout the day worth it. I think there is a sermon in there somewhere.

Participants and supporters wearing finisher shirts

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday check in

Natchez Trace bridge I rode over
Surprise! A post from me! Yes, I am still alive and still interested in sharing a bit of my life from time to time. This should serve as a bit of check-in. I know it has been a little while, but, hey, it is summer.

We left last Thursday morning for Nashville. We had a luncheon at the Christian Scholars Conference to attend. We got there in plenty of time to get checked in and see a few people. The luncheon was to present a new book in honor of Charles Siburt. It was wonderful experience, packed with good emotion.

The conference was good. I enjoyed it and felt more comfortable than I thought I would. My participation went well. It was great to see some old friends and to make some new ones. The conference ended Saturday midday with lecture by John Dean of Watergate fame. His speech was interesting.

I arrived in Huntsville Saturday afternoon. Kedra went on down to Huntsville on Friday. Rebecca and Luke went down on Saturday morning. It worked out that when I arrived everyone was gone, busy doing various things. Perfect! That meant I could hop on my bike for a quick 25 mile ride without shirking familial responsibilities.

It was supposed to be an easy ride. The day before I had ridden 31 miles on the Natchez Trace Parkway. This road is a cyclist's paradise! There is hardly any motorized traffic and the road, while a bit hilly, is well-maintained. I am beginning to have thoughts of trying the bike all 444 miles of it sometime in the future. I only had time for 31 miles on Friday. The hills allowed speeds of 39 mph, which then were met with the corresponding 8 mph on the way back.  Good workout.

Anyway, back to the 25 mile ride. I was rolling along when I sensed something behind me. I did a triple take, finally realizing another rider was right behind me, sucking wheel. It turned out to be a young man originally from Indiana. He lives in Huntsville and aspires to be an Ironman. He actually signed up for Louisville last year but couldn't do it due to a ruptured appendix. We had a good chat and the pace escalated.

We had a nice day Sunday - church, good food, rest. Monday I rode 80 miles and Tuesday allowed me to get 20 more. I also ran 27 miles while away. No swim. It just wasn't convenient. The time away, while not allowing total disengagement, did give me a bit of a break. I got to read some and write a little.

Now I'm back and digging out. Our trip to Honduras is a major focus right now. We leave 3 weeks from Sunday!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Wednesday a.m.


Good morning! Wednesday it is. It's the day before I take off for about a week, so it's a day of preparation. It's also a day of smoking 70 pounds of pork. Multi-tasking. Someone is having a surprise party for someone else and asked me to smoke. I said, "yes."

Last night was Pace Line Tuesday. A couple of our leaders were gone, so we were a little light on numbers and planners. We were going to have 5 riders doing the whole thing. James was going to roll out with us but only part of the way. Two of the five riders had not pace lined before, so I suggested to John H and Tim G that we do a slower paced pace line to teach them. Pace Line 101. John and Tim, ever the nice guys, agreed to give up a hard work out to help out.

Scott B and Josh A were agreeable, so we rolled out to the county line with the plan. After getting all set up and organized, we took off. We planned to go 20 mph, but there was a slight tailwind. We ended up just a tick over 21 mph, I think. We held together really well. Josh cramped with 1 mile to go and fell off a bit. We also discovered that he may have had a brake pad rubbing for the 10 miles.

Here is the data for the whole ride: Pace Line 101. The pace line starts around mile 19. This link includes our warm up and cool down. After the ride, the five of us minus Josh, took to the streets of Mitchell to complete the brick workout. Josh ran 10 miles earlier in the day. Here's the run data, just for fun: Brick Run. It was a good workout, and it was completed by a trip to Wendy's to refuel and tell stories.

Yesterday was a fairly busy day. I had a couple of significant meetings. (I'd have to kill you.) I am trying to help a guy who has no job, no GED, and a few felonies. How do you help a guy like that, with so much against him? One step at a time. We will see if he follows through on the little challenges/assignments I'm giving him. He strikes me as a little different than some, so I have hope.

Lots and lots to do... Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Tuesday a.m.

Good morning! What a beautiful morning! 50s! I hope you are enjoy life, focusing on the good things that surround you. I've had a couple of cups of Costa Rican coffee this morning, so I am feeling very fine. Rebecca is home for the summer, and she had an extra bag of coffee that she brought home from her Costa Rican experience last fall. Good stuff!

My supply of Honduran coffee is getting low, so it's a good thing I have a trip planned. I bought several kinds on the last trip and have now identified the brand/kind that I like the best. I will still get several kinds, but this one particular bag will dominate the selection.

Yes, that's Iron Bill hold a 6 foot+ snake. We were rolling along on the Amish Super 2 later in the afternoon yesterday, when we came up on this bad boy (or girl). I pointed it out, and Bill said, "It's dead." We both quickly concluded that his initial assessment was wrong. The next thing I hear is, "I'm going back!" I had to manage an oncoming car, and by the time I looked/turned back, Bill is off his bike wrangling the snake.  Yes, it was an odd, funny sight, but those who know Iron Bill expect this sort of thing.

After holding the reptile for a while and explaining to me various aspects of reptile life, Bill released the beast. It did, as he was catching it, in his words, nick him a little. Fortunately it was a black snake, so we could continue riding without any poison ruining the ride. Dull moments? Never.

Yesterday was a good day. It got kinda crazy yesterday morning. It was one of those "interruptions are my ministry" sort of mornings taken to maximum level. That's all fine. I did get some good things done. Today, hopefully, will be a little quieter. I have a few things that I need to do to prepare for my participation in the conference at the end of the week. I also have a meeting or two today.

This evening is Pace Line time. Hmmm, I am seeing a forecast of winds ESE. ESE on 337 = speedy return ride. Will it be a pace line or a time trial? Either way, it will 37+ total miles of fun, followed by a 3 mile run, followed by a trip to Wendy's for stories.

I hope you have a great day! Thanks for coming by.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Monday a.m.

Good morning! I hope you are doing well. I will try do a little better this week about blogging, but I must warn you that I will be out of town some, later on. Summer! It's the wrecker of routines. Some of them need some wrecking, so it's all good. School calendars are shortening summer all the time, it seems.
Last week was unusual, and this week will be the same. The main thing this week is the Christian Scholars Conference in Nashville. I leave early Thursday morning. I wrote a chapter for a book in memory of Charles Siburt that is going to be presented on Thursday to his family. A paper regarding the book will be presented by Tim Sensing on Friday regarding the book, and then I am on a panel to discuss the work on Saturday.
The scholarly world is an interesting place. I lived in it for several years and try to stay in touch with it, but it is not favorite place. I'm not totally comfortable there. I think it is an important world, and my goal is to learn from it and try bring practical things from it to the place where most of us live.
My Ironman training is moving along. Ironman Florida 2014 is a long way off, but it is going to take me a long time to get ready. My running and riding are going along pretty well. Swimming? That, too, is coming along. I've been in the lake the last 2 Sunday afternoons, jumping in between activities. While I am slow, I am doing what was nearly unimaginable a year ago. My confidence is building. An old dog can learn new tricks. If I can swim, then anybody can do just about anything!

Our Honduras trip is rapidly approaching. I think we are about as organized for this one as we have ever been. We have an interesting, diverse group of people comprising our team. I am very excited about our team and our plans. July 7-17.

OK, I need to get going... Thanks for coming by.